ACTION ALERT: Tell Your State Representative to Support Funding for Mass in Motion

Mass in Motion is an important program that brings together partners across Massachusetts to fight obesity in children and adults by increasing opportunities for walking and biking and access to healthy food. The program is crucial for bicycling across our commonwealth, and is a significant source of funding for MassBike's Bikeable Communities Program. Right now, the continuance of this vital program is in question due to federal budget cuts, and our partners are working hard to secure state funding for Mass in Motion.

State Representative Gailanne Cariddi of North Adams has filed an amendment to the state budget that would provide dedicated state funding for Mass in Motion, providing enough funding to maintain current investments. Representatives have until tomorrow afternoon (Friday, April 11) to sign on as co-sponsors. In order to be successful, we need to have lots of Reps, especially those from Mass in Motion communities, sign on in support.

What can you do to help secure state funding for Mass in Motion?

Please call your State Representative immediately and ask her or him to co-sponsor Rep. Cariddi's amendment to restore funding for Mass in Motion. A fact sheet about the amendment is here that you can share with your Rep. A list of all the Representatives from Mass in Motion communities is here, and includes their email, phone number, and social media handles.

Not sure who your State Representative is? Visit this page to find out.

Once you've called your representative, please take a moment to let us know you have by emailing bikeinfo@massbike.org.

Thank you for your support in this effort. By taking action, you are helping to ensure that our communities have the resources to continue healthy transportation and active living programs that are making a real impact across our commonwealth.

- David

Walking and Biking Advocates Make The Case For Active Transportation At The Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit

[caption id="attachment_22145" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett addresses the crowd.[/caption]

Last Thursday, advocates for better walking and biking came together for the 3rd annual Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit at the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill. Organized in partnership between MassBike and WalkBoston, the summit was an opportunity for attendees to meet with their elected leaders and talk about about the importance of promoting active transportation around the Commonwealth.

The keynote speaker this year was Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, who talked about the Mass in Motion program and how expanding opportunities for walking and biking will be necessary for achieving important public health outcomes like reducing obesity and associated chronic diseases and bringing down health care costs.

This year's topics of discussion with lawmakers were the two safety bills, the Vulnerable Road Users Bill and the Bike Lane Protection Bill, the importance of continued funding for Mass in Motion programs, the necessity of gas tax indexing for meeting statewide mode shift goals, and increasing funding for Department of Conservation and Recreation to ensure adequate maintenance and staffing of their facilities.

MassBike and WalkBoston Executive Directors David Watson and Wendy Landman met with the the offices of House Speaker Robert DeLeo, as well as Joint Transportation Committee Co-Chairs Senator Thomas McGee and Representative Bill Straus. This past Monday, David Watson met with the office of Senate President Therese Murray. Altogether, summit attendees held a total of 22 meetings with their elected leaders.

As meetings continued into the afternoon, news spread of the tragic death of Eoin McGrory of Chelsea, who was killed while riding his bicycle in Charlestown. The news added a sense of urgency to following meetings, and reminded attendees of the importance of enhancing legal protections for vulnerable road users to making tragedies like this less frequent.

Much work still needs to be done to move the two bills forward, but momentum is clearly building following the positive conversations advocates had with their elected leaders, and the desire to do something in the wake of last Thursday's tragedy. MassBike, WalkBoston, and partner organizations will continue to engage elected leaders and policy makers on the range of important issues discussed at the Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit. There will also be many more opportunities for citizens to take action. You can keep up to date by subscribing to MassBike's email newsletter (scroll to the top of this page to sign up) and following MassBike on Facebook and Twitter.

Trappist Beer? Swimming Holes? Homemade Ice Cream? Must Be the Mass BikePike Tour!

[caption id="attachment_22110" align="aligncenter" width="960"] Photo: Mass BikePike Tour[/caption]

Which bike tour takes you along scenic routes through quaint Central Massachusetts towns, including stops at swimming holes, homemade ice cream stands, and even a Trappist beer brewery, and let's you pedal along at your own pace while chatting with the new friends you just made at breakfast? The Mass BikePike Tour does, of course!

Now in it's seventh year, this tour, designed to appeal to riders with a range of experience and abilities, proudly calls itself “The Friendliest Ride in the East”.  This year's tour will take place August 7 - 10.

[caption id="attachment_22131" align="alignleft" width="300"] Photo: Mass BikePike Tour[/caption]

The tour starts in Shirley, and riders will explore the apple country, visit the 18th century utopia of Harvard, savor the all-day breakfast at old-fashioned classic diner in Oxford, and try to pick which town green is the most beautiful – it's a tough call! Along with the beautiful scenery, riders can look forward to the climb to the top of Purgatory Chasm. Beer-lovers will enjoy the chance to ride by the monastery that is the first and only certified Trappist Beer brewery in the United States!

Each evening features a pre-dinner “social hour”, a nightly campfire/stargazing, and optional field trips to local attractions. The Mass BikePike Tour is affordably priced and all proceeds benefit MassBike. The tour is fully supported with cues, arrows, sag vehicles, rest stops and staff.

Spaces go quickly, so sign up now to reserve your space! The tour also offers volunteer spots to offset the cost of signing up. For more information, please visit www.massbikepike.org.

Easthampton: Manhan Rail Trail Construction Causes Detours



Residents of Easthampton and surrounding communities in the Pioneer Valley will have to seek alternate routes if they are planning to travel along the Manhan Rail Trail corridor this spring and summer. MassBike's Pioneer Valley Chapter (MassBike PV) reported the closure on Facebook yesterday.

The closure is due to construction related to the Pioneer Mills Project, and portions of the trail will be closed through June. MassBike PV has provided a helpful map of the construction area and suggested detours. The Manhan Rail Trail has a total length of 6 miles within Easthampton and continues for several miles into Northampton where it connects with a system of trails in that city.

Follow MassBike PV on Facebook for regular updates. Do you have any updates about this project to report? Please let us know at bikeinfo@massbike.org.

Mark Your Calendars For Bay State Bike Week!

[caption id="attachment_22068" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Boston Police Department hosted a child safety day[/caption]

What do the Northampton Tweed Ride, Jamaica Plain Free Pancake Breakfast, Franklin Bike Rodeo, and over 170 other local bike events around Massachusetts all have in common?


They are all part of Bay State Bike Week, the annual celebration of human-powered transportation across Massachusetts. With temperatures quickly rising, it's time to polish off that dirty bike you've been riding all winter, or dust off the one that's been idling through the coldest months, and get ready for this year's festivities.

Every year, bike enthusiasts across Massachusetts plan events in their communities. Events range from bike safety classes for children to rides of silence to commuter breakfasts and beyond. Last year's festivities even included a tour of Pioneer Valley wineries!

This year's Bay State Bike Week will be from May 10 through May 18. Visit the Bay State Bike Week website to learn about events happening in your local area, how to plan an event, or to add your event to the calendar. Be sure to like Bay State Bike Week on Facebook, follow on Twitter, and keep up to date with the hashtag #BSBW.

Bay State Bike Week is a partnership between MassBike, MassDOT, and MassRIDES, in collaboration with local advocacy leaders, bike shop owners, and anyone else who likes seeing others go by bike.

 

This Thursday, The Mass Pike Straightening Project Begins Public Process

[caption id="attachment_22085" align="aligncenter" width="794"] Photo: People's Pike[/caption]

This Thursday, April 10, MassDOT will host a public meeting in Allston to discuss the upcoming Massachusetts Turnpike Straightening Project, a $260 million project to simplify the ramp system at the Allston interchange, replace the structurally deficient elevated portion of the turnpike, and better support and maintain the future all electronic "open road" tolling at the interchange. The project will also free up between 60 and 100 acres of land for development.


The multi-phase project will start in fall 2016 and be completed by 2020, and will completely transform the South Allston land parcel between Cambridge Street, Soldiers Field Road / the Charles River, and the Beacon Park railway yard.

Though Governor Patrick announced the project last October, this will be the first opportunity to hear detailed plans directly from state officials.

Allston residents are filled with excitement about the possibilities that this blank canvas creates. A group of residents created the group "People's Pike" to advocate for community members to speak up and make sure the project is great for "those of us living, walking, running and cycling in Allston." Several advocacy groups, including MassBike, have been invited to participate on the project advisory board.

Members of the People's Pike group were responsible for major improvements for  the Cambridge Street overpass project. And now they've turned their focus to this project that will have lasting impacts for generations to come. Will Allston be reconnected to the Charles River, Cambridge, and beyond? Will new parkland be developed along the river? What about new safe and inviting protected bike lanes to attract bicyclists of all ages and abilities? Is there an opportunity for new active transportation connections to knit Allston back together?

The upcoming public meeting will set the tone for entire project, and is an opportunity for residents to tell MassDOT what they want to see in their community.

Here are the details for the public meeting:

Thursday April 10, 6:30 pm
Jackson Mann Community Center
500 Cambridge Street, Allston

Can't make the public meeting? Follow People's Pike Twitter.

MassBike Trains The Trainers About Bike Safety In Fall River


It was a cold day but that wouldn't stop a dedicated group of would-be bike trainers.


Last Friday, the MassBike program team led a workshop for adults interested in teaching children on-bike skills and bicycle safety in Fall River, a community that has seen significant momentum build for bicycling since the city was designated a Mass in Motion Community. Participants included staff from the local Boys & Girls Club, Fall River Police Department, and members of the Fall River Bicycle Committee.




[caption id="attachment_22055" align="alignright" width="277"] A glimpse of the picturesque path along South Watuppa Pond Path.[/caption]

Fall River has made some significant gains for bikeability recently. Mass in Motion Coordinator Julie Kelly has been instrumental in two significant community-led initiatives: the formation of the Fall River Bicycle Committee--100 member-strong after just two years in existence--and the construction of the 0.6-mile Watuppa bicycle and recreation path, which is the first leg of the future Fall River Regional Bikeway. The picturesque path runs along the northern shore of South Watuppa Pond, from near the Westport line behind Lepage’s on Route 6 to Brayton Avenue near the Route 24 exit ramps.

The three hour-long workshop incorporated an engaging in-classroom  discussion on 1) basic rules of the road 2) how to perform the ABC Quick Check and 3) proper clothing choices and helmet and bike fit. The workshop also included an on-bike portion, which included parking lot skill development and a community ride to increase participants' comfort riding in traffic and on paths. MassBike's extensive resource library includes bicycle safety education handouts for children and parents (pdfs are here and here).

Participants asked some great questions and enjoyed the opportunity to ride their bikes on a Friday afternoon. A full write-up of the evening's training session can be found at the Healthy Fall River's website (link here).




As part of our Bikeable Communities Program, we offer a number of services, such as Bicycle Planning Assistance to facilitate a strategy for implementing bicycle-related projects, Bikeability Assessments to evaluate a community’s current state of bike-friendliness, and Bikeable Communities Trainings to help local advocates engage with key stakeholders and understand how to improve local infrastructure conditions.

DCR And Advocacy Groups Discuss Snow Removal And Bicycle Transportation Policies



Bicycle advocacy groups, including MassBike, Boston Cyclists Union, and LivableStreets Alliance, recently met with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to discuss the need to update DCR policies to reflect the use of their pathways as transportation facilities, and improve year-round maintenance and snow clearance policies. The meeting was the result of a response by the advocacy community to statements made by DCR in response to criticism over its handling of snow removal.

The meeting was very productive and positive. At present, we can report the following outcome from the meeting:
Advocates recently met with DCR Commissioner Murray and other officials to discuss snow removal and bicycle policies. The meeting was very positive and productive, with DCR acknowledging its important role in bicycle transportation and sharing agency plans to update its snow removal policy to meet current needs. DCR committed to a transparent and public process to address these issues this year.

This process with DCR and the advocacy community will be ongoing, and we will share further details as they emerge.

4th Annual South Coast Bikeway Summit This Thursday



Exciting things are happening for biking on the South Coast.

This Thursday, March 27, the South Coast Bikeway Alliance will host the 4th annual summit from 5-8 pm at the Fort Tabor Community Center, 1000 Rodney French Blvd, New Bedford.

The festivities will begin with a welcome session from 5-6 pm followed by presentations from Fall River Mayor William Flanagan, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, Representative Bill Strauss, Co-Chair of the Joint Transportation Committee, and MassBike Executive Director David Watson.

Eric Weis and Molly Henry of the East Coast Greenway Alliance will unveil the "Old Colony Route" through South Coast region and this fall's planned "Yankee Roundabout" bike tour.

Willie Weir, a nationally acclaimed columnist for Adventure Cyclist Magazine and the author of Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will be the keynote speaker. Mr. Weir is also a photographer, radio commentator, inspirational speaker and bicycle advocate. Mr. Weir has cycled over 60,000 miles throughout the world.

The event is free to attend, but organizers are accepting donations to help offset summit expenses.

Visit the South Coast Bikeway Alliance website to get your tickets.

Will The Supreme Court Ruling On Rail Trails Affect Massachusetts?

[caption id="attachment_21988" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photos: Daderot[/caption]

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down it's decision in the "rail trails" case, Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust et al. v. United States. The ruling generated a lot of buzz within the bicycle advocacy community, particularly among rail trail advocates.

While initially the ruling appeared to seal a grim fate for existing and future rail trails, after careful review by rail trail advocates it now appears to be not quite so bad at the national level, and does not affect Massachusetts rail trails at all.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has put together an excellent blog post and infographic that details the impact of the Supreme Court ruling:
Existing rail-trails or trail projects ARE NOT affected by this decision if ANY of the following conditions are met:

  1. The rail corridor is “railbanked.”

  2. The rail corridor was originally acquired by the railroad by a federally granted right-of-way (FGROW) through federal lands before 1875.

  3. The railroad originally acquired the corridor from a private land owner.

  4. The trail manager owns the land adjacent to the rail corridor.

  5. The trail manager owns full title (fee simple) to the corridor.

  6. The railroad corridor falls within the original 13 colonies.



In Massachusetts, at least, we can breath a sigh of relief.


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